Cancellara calm and focussed about Tour of Flanders ambitions: ‘I’m ready’
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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Cancellara calm and focussed about Tour of Flanders ambitions: ‘I’m ready’

by VeloNation Press at 2:33 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Tour of Flanders
 
‘My victory in E3 was a huge boost of confidence for my team too. I believe in my team. We will be ready.’

Fabian CancellaraWhen Fabian Cancellara blitzed the field to take the rare double of the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix in 2010, his dominance was such that he appeared sure to win many more Classics in the seasons ahead. In fact, the Swiss rider was so much better than his rivals that his accelerations and general power led to rumours that he had a motor hidden in his bike.

Despite that level of superiority, though, three years on Cancellara is still yet to add another Classic victory to those successes. He’s won slightly smaller races such as the Strade Bianche (2012) and the E3 Harelbeke (2011), but repeat victories in either of the northern Classics or Milan-Sanremo have eluded him since. He’s gone close, of course, but his rivals’ tactics, their collective strength and injuries which have affected him have all ensured that he’s still waiting for another major Classic triumph.

Speaking in advance of tomorrow’s Ronde Van Vlaanderen, though, Cancellara appears to be quietly confident that a big performance could well be in store. His faith has been sharpened by a superb solo victory in the E3 Harelbeke. His motivation is perfect and he feels ready.

“There are many favorites for this race, including myself. Other teams will be there too. I can only say about myself that I’ve done my homework and am ready to do my job,” he said in his pre-race press conference. “With the experience I have, if things go right you just never know. For me it’s most important to take the start line in Brugge and be ready and relaxed.”

Cancellara didn’t finish last Sunday’s Gent Wevelgem but said that he isn’t worried about that. He won the E3 Harelbeke race two days earlier and is clear that was the reason why he stopped. Since then he’s continued to hone his form and will line out tomorrow believing it’s very possible that he could win.

“I took some rest between my win in E3 and now. In Gent-Wevelgem I was still feeling tired and with the cold, the start being moved and full gas from the start – I was not really race ready at that point,” he explained. “I did 110km and then went home to recover.

“I continued to train during the week and now back here in Belgium it looks like good weather. It’s still cold, but compared to Switzerland and compared to last week, it’s good. I’m looking forward to Sunday. I’ve been building up to this the past five months so it was good to go home and get some rest before returning to Belgium.”

Being fully recovered is going to be crucially important tomorrow, as he believes a massive battle is in store. “I expect it to be a hard race. We’ve seen week to week teams growing and getting better in preparation for this race,” he said. “Certain teams will take the lead. We will play our cards. My victory in E3 was a huge boost of confidence for my team too. I believe in my team and we will be ready. I’ve won Flanders before so they trust me, too. I think within our team we have possibilities that people will not expect.”

Sagan, Boonen and his other rivals:

Cancellara may believe that others on the Radioshack Leopard team can challenge, but in reality his rivals’ eyes will be on him rather than the likes of Stijn Devolder, who won in 2008 and 2009. Cancellara states that he has a lot of trust in the Belgian, and that he believes that he will be mentally ready and physically strong enough to play an important role on Sunday.

As for his rivals, the likes of Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma Quick Step), he said that he believes both will be strong. However he said that he isn’t fixated on them, but rather on his own race.

“In the end I create my own pressure. I know what I want and my goal is to win the race,” he said. “Sagan is another strong competitor but I never forget about Tom. He’s experienced in this race and you never know what is going to happen. I’m happy for cycling because these rivalries make cycling exciting. It’s a good sign.

“Peter is a very young rider,” he continued, speaking about Sagan and his chances. “I would have been very proud to win so many races at such a young age. A young rider has less stress; he has a calm mind. He’s won his Classic [Gent Wevelgem] and I’ve won mine [E3 Harelbeke] so right now we’re one and one. I have my own weapons, my own skills that are strong. I am not racing for second place. In every race it’s important to read the race and I will know what I need to do.”

As for Boonen, he’s been held back by illness and injury in recent months and also crashed out of Gent Wevelgem, injuring his knee in the process. The Belgium has said that he isn’t in the same form as last year, but hopes to fight for the win regardless.

Despite those setbacks, Cancellara still sees the Belgian rider as a threat. “Tom Boonen will also be ready,” he insisted. “I know he’s had some sickness and injuries but he’s a past winner and the Belgian hero of this race. You need to be 100% and that’s the big pressure. I have seen that Tom’s team is growing and Tom will be up there. He will be strong. It’s one of his races and he will play his cards, too.”

However rather than obsessing about his rivals and how they might do, he’s focussing instead on himself and his own performance. He’s satisfied with where he is at on the eve of the race, and is ready to go for another win in the Ronde.

“I was very happy and satisfied with my win in E3. It was a strong performance that did a lot for my confidence,” he said, describing the important motivation boost he got from what was his first victory of the season. “But even more, it gave me the will to get stronger from that.

“I also saw things that I needed to improve on for Sunday. There were names missing that day and others had some bad luck. So I use the details from that race to do better on Sunday.”

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